UFC 256: Betting Odds, Picks & Model Projections for All 10 Fights (Saturday, Dec. 12)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: A general view inside the UFC APEX.
The UFC continues its run at APEX Saturday in Las Vegas with a 10-fight card, beginning with five preliminary bouts on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET. The PPV main card starts at 10:00 p.m. ET and concludes with a main event flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno.
There have been a number of changes to this card due to fighters testing positive for COVID-19 during fight week, but rest assured, there’s still plenty of value.
If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that in addition to moneylines and over/unders, there are numerous ways to bet on an MMA fight — including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.
As a result, after examining all of the betting options, your typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.
Check out the full betting odds for Saturday’s UFC card, with analysis and picks for each fight below.
UFC 256 Model Projections
Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 11 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside of the distance, or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.
In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission — which enables us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.
UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno Odds
Early Preliminary Card
- 7:30 p.m. ET
Featherweight fight: Chase Hooper vs. Peter Barrett
|Over/Under TBA rounds||+145/-200|
Crowdsourced Projections: Hooper (73%)
In Saturday’s first bout, 21-year-old Chase Hooper will look to rebound from his first professional loss against 34-year-old Peter Barrett – a fellow contender series alum who dropped his official UFC debut to Youssef Zalal in August.
There is a 51-fight sample of bouts between fighters at least 13 years apart in age, and the younger fighter has prevailed 69% of the time (35-16) at average odds of -133 (implied 57%); a win rate of 12% more frequently than expected – which lends credence to Hooper as the correct side.
This is a step back down in competition for Hooper, whom the UFC has given a big promotional push, and the organization will continue to hand him winnable fights as he develops – before permitting him to occasionally test deeper waters again.
“The Dream” has yet to make serious strides with his striking, physicality, or wrestling, and if Barrett is able to keep this fight standing and press Hooper back against the cage, he could find a knockout or land enough volume to win on the scorecards (landed 61-of-65 clinch strikes in DWCS win).
But his grappling, mobility, and wrestling (gave up 3-of-5 takedown attempts, spent 6:54 of control time under Zalal) pale in comparison to the test that Caceres presented for Hooper, and this matchup seems like a get right spot for the kid.
Barrett is just 4-4 in the past three years, and three of those losses came by stoppage (two submissions, one TKO).
I could see value in a small play at a 2% edge on the underdog moneyline (projected 27%) at +300 (implied 25%), and the prop odds for Barrett by decision (+500) or Hooper by submission (-110) are relatively fair wagers, which align with my projections (-107 and +507, respectively).
Ultimately, I don’t see any actionable value on this fight, but if you’re betting the Hooper side, I would prefer to play his inside the distance prop (projected -127, listed -143) rather than his submission prop.
Hooper’s ground and pound is far more developed than his standup striking, and he is happy to rain down elbows and hammer fists for as long as he needs to in order to create openings for submission attempts.
- 8:00 p.m. ET
Strawweight fight: Sam Hughes vs. Tecia Torres
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-300/+235|
Crowdsourced Projections: Torres (82%)
Sam Hughes is a late-notice replacement (for Angela Hill) and taking on UFC veteran Tecia Torres, two substantial negative marks against her chances of pulling a surprise upset on Saturday.
Overall, UFC debutants have just a 43% win rate against octagon veterans, while late-notice replacements have won at a 38% clip.
The only box to tick in this fight for Hughes is size – 4-inches taller, with a 4-inch reach advantage – but this is a serious step up in competition for a competitor with just six professional fights, going against a Top-10 strawweight contender.
Torres lost to three current or former champions in a 13-month span from 2018-19 (Zhang Weili, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade), but got back on track as a +170 underdog with a win over Brianna Van Buren in June.
Hughes is just 2-1 against fighters who have recorded at least one professional win, and her lone loss came via submission against Vanessa Demopoulos in July before Demopoulos failed to win a contender series contract against Cory McKenna just three weeks later.
In other words, it’s highly unlikely that Hughes is UFC caliber, and it’s hard to imagine Torres being intimated by her opponents’ physicality when she has already dealt with the size of both Joanna and Zhang – and the power of Andrade.
Torres is a point fighter – one finish in 16 professional bouts – and despite her lack of experience, Hughes does appear to be relatively tough to put away.
As a result, this bout offers value to go the distance (projected 85% or -568), and for Torres to win by decision (projected -282). I’m ok betting those props to -400 and -222 respectively, but likely only playing the Torres side once the line is widely available (soft open at -185).
- Tecia Torres wins by Decision (-175, 0.5u)
Featherweight fight: Gavin Tucker vs. Billy Quarantillo
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-200/+150|
Crowdsourced Projections: Quarantillo (67%)
“Billy Q” has taken a considerable amount of steam in the past week, moving 10% in the betting market from -111 (implied 52.6%) to -167 (62.6%) as of writing.
I was able to jump in with a small play at -155, and I would continue to play that moneyline small to about -163 (implied 62%), a five-point edge compared to my projection (67%). I would prefer to play Quarantillo’s decision prop down to +135, a similar edge compared to my projection at +110, but I’m splitting my position.
Billy defines relentless, and sustains a hypersonic pace for three rounds – landing more than 7.5 significant strikes per minute, which ranks ahead of every male UFC fighter (Justin Gaethje ranks second at 7.46).
But he also has the ability to change levels and control his opponents on the mat, while denying their shots too (1.71 takedowns per 15 minutes, 38% accuracy, 66% defense).
Tucker’s is similarly well rounded, but his overall metrics are skewed by a 2017 loss to Rick Glenn (down 142-23 on significant strikes). The Canadian has improved both his cardio and wrestling since that fight, but he’s the smaller man in this bout (4-inch deficit in both height and reach), and could get doubled up in terms of significant strikes while spending some time being controlled.
As a result, even if Billy loses Round 1, I still expect him to rally to win this fight, and I’ll look to play Quarantillo’s moneyline again if he becomes a live underdog.
- Billy Quarantillo (-155, 0.5u)
- Quarantillo wins by Decision (+170, 0.5u)
- Quarantillo live after Round 1
Lightweight fight: Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-139/+105|
Crowdsourced Projections: Moicano (52%)
This is the second fight at lightweight for Moicano – who maintains a size advantage over Fiziev (3-inches taller, 1-inch reach advantage) even after moving up from Bantamweight – where he only lost to top-flight competition (Chan Sung Jung, Jose Aldo, Brian Ortega).
Perhaps, the Brazilian has finally found his ideal weight class, after struggling to make the cut to 145, and I think we have some significant recency bias baked into this line.
Fiziev – who is a striking coach for Tiger Muay Thai – is incredibly entertaining and fluid on the feet – taking home a performance bonus after a decision over Marc Diakese, despite a small margin in significant strikes (78-68):
— Mialsa (@Mialsa23) July 19, 2020
Moicano represents a significant step up in competition for Fiziev overall, and just in terms of striking he pushes a more voluminous pace (+0.88 strikes landed per minute, -9% accuracy, +12% defense) with superior efficiency (+1.82 to +0.38 strike differential).
Moicano – a Muay Thai specialist – landed 116 significant strikes in three rounds against the defensively responsible Calvin Kattar (56% defense) for instance, and the BJJ blackbelt should also have a significant grappling edge over the Kyrgyzstan native (a BJJ blue belt).
As the saying goes, “there are levels to this game” and Fiziev needs to prove that he belongs on Moicano’s level – not the other way around.
The wrong man is favored here, and I’m happy to play the Brazilian’s moneyline down to +113 (implied 47%), a five-point edge relative to my projection (52%).
Moicano’s odds to win by decision (projected +285, listed +333) or submission (projected +347, listed +400) are equally viable and valuable winning methods, but I’ll skip the prop market on this fight.
- Renato Moicano (+135, 1.5u)
Featherweight fight: Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-121/-110|
Crowdsourced Projections: Pineda (60%)
This bout initially opened as a pick’em, but Pineda – who smashed Herbert Burns in his return to the UFC in August – has become a much more significant favorite over the past week against the 10-time fight of the night winner Swanson.
Cub has suffered a litany of injuries throughout his professional career and it’s notable that he’s returning after a 14-month layoff – following a torn ACL – at age 37. Historically, UFC fighters who return from a one-year layoff win less than 40% of the time.
Pineda has a 100% finish rate in 27 career wins but is 0-5 on the scorecards. Meanwhile, Swanson hasn’t finished an opponent since 2013 – but he has tapped out seven times in his career – including four of his past six losses – and Pineda is an underrated BJJ black belt.
Swanson by decision (projected +201, listed +250) and Pineda inside the distance (projected +156, listed +130) are the two logical paths to victory – though only the former offers projected betting value.
Betting the fight to go the distance (projected 54%) also offers value, but it is too closely correlated with the Swanson decision prop not to prefer that play at boosted odds.
Ultimately, I can’t back Cub here coming off of a bad knee injury, but I had a difficult time passing up a small play on that decision prop.
- ESPN PPV
- 10 p.m. ET
Heavyweight fight: Junior Dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane
|Dos Santos odds||+333|
|Over/Under 1.5 rounds||-139/+105|
Crowdsourced Projections: Gane (75%)
On the heels of three consecutive defeats – all by TKO – Junior dos Santos (“JDS”) is likely on the UFC’s chopping block with another loss here, to rising prospect Ciryl Gane.
At 36, JDS isn’t necessarily on the wrong side of the age curve for the heavyweight division, but the three-time fight of the night winner has absorbed a ton of damage throughout his career, and his durability might be fading more quickly than expected.
That being said, his potential glass chin is now fully priced into the line, after Gane opened as a -270 favorite. This is a serious step up in class for Gane, moving from unranked competition to face a former champion whose recent losses have all come against champions or title challengers (Cain Velasquez x2, Alistair Overeem, Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik).
Gane hasn’t competed in nearly one year, but he has been a highly efficient striker (5.12 strikes landed per minute, +3.03 differential, 73% defense) in three UFC fights – primarily from distance – and will look to use his 4-inch reach advantage to pick away at JDS from the outside.
JDS plays a similar style, and unless his chin is completely shot, I expect to see a fairly technical kickboxing/boxing matchup during the early rounds, with either man looking to pick their spots for combinations.
As a result, while I show slight value on Gane’s props to win by knockout (projected -137, listed -125) or inside the distance (projected -155, listed -150), and on the dos Santos moneyline at +334 (implied 23%) relative to my projection (25%), my preferred play is the Over 1.5 rounds given the stylistic matchup of this Heavyweight fight.
- Over 1.5 Rounds (-130, 0.5u)
Middleweight fight: Jacare Souza vs. Kevin Holland
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-125/-106|
Crowdsourced Projections: Souza (51%)
Holland – who is 4-0 in 2020 – initially opened as a -175 favorite (implied 63.6%), but now sits as an even-money underdog (implied 50%) as of writing against the 41-year-old Souza, who hasn’t competed since last November.
As a reminder, UFC fighters who return from a one-year layoff win less than 40% of the time, and in bouts between fighters at least 13 years apart in age, the younger fighter has prevailed 69% of the time at average odds of -133 (implied 57%).
On paper, Holland is one of the more efficient strikers in UFC history, averaging 4.68 strikes landed per minute, with a +1.88 differential, a 56% strike accuracy rate, and a 56% defensive rate. He is incredibly long (81-inch reach) with a 9-inch advantage relative to Souza, who will look to test Holland’s grappling (54% takedown defense).
Jacare (2.46 takedowns per 15 minutes, 38% accuracy) – a former ADCC champion who has finished each of his past six UFC wins dating back to 2014 – may only need to complete one takedown to defeat Holland. The lanky limbs that make Holland an asset on the feet often prove problematic when grappling – providing ample surface area for his opponents to grab hold.
Holland was grounded three times (on eight attempts) and held down for more than four minutes in a split-decision win over Darren Stewart in September, proving that he still has work to do on his defensive grappling and wrestling.
Pre-fight, this matchup looks like a pick’em, but in hindsight, the winner will likely seem like they should have been a significant favorite. The relative strengths/weaknesses of these two combatants indicate that a finish is likely, and given his age, it’s entirely possible that Souza is completely shot.
If he isn’t, I expect Holland to eventually make a mistake, and for the Brazilian to capitalize. But if this is the end of the road for Jacare, and Holland denies every takedown attempt, he should eventually finish his opponent with pure volume.
Holland by KO/TKO (+450), and Souza Inside the Distance (+175) both align with my projections (+450 and +169 respectively), and I see this fight finishing inside the distance more often (57%) than the odds (-115, or 53.5%) suggest.
Given the path to a finish for both men, I’ll play the violence bet and take the Under 2.5 rounds at plus money.
- Under 2.5 Rounds (+112, 0.5u)
Women’s Strawweight fight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||-143/+108|
Crowdsourced Projections: Dern (53%)
I have been looking forward to this fight – and backing Jandiroba as an underdog – since its booking, while trying to patiently time the peak price on the Brazilian.
The American-born Dern opened as a -156 favorite (implied 61%) and climbed near -200 (implied 66.7%) on Thursday, but after getting close to +180, Jandiroba’s price keeps correcting back to around +160, and I like her moneyline down to +138 (implied 42%); a five-percentage point edge compared to my projection (47%).
Dern offers some of the best jiu-jitsu in MMA, but Jandiroba is also a black-belt and a top-flight grappler. The grappling skill gap between the two isn’t as wide as you think, and Jandiroba possesses the ability to dictate, through her wrestling, where this fight goes.
Virna should have a significant wrestling advantage in this matchup. Dern has been unable to get her opponents to the ground (7% takedown accuracy) without pulling guard or relying on them to make fight IQ mistakes) and if Jandiroba times her entries (4.6 takedowns per 15 minutes, 50% accuracy) and avoids grappling errors, she should spend the majority of this fight in top control:
— ufcespanol (@UFCEspanol) August 16, 2020
I give Dern the edge on the feet. She has more power and has made greater strides in terms of technique.
I don’t expect Virna to be able to out-strike Dern from range as Amanda Ribas did in Dern’s lone MMA loss (72-19 edge in distance strikes), for instance, but I do expect Jandiroba to turn this fight into a grind, neutralize her opponents’ sweeps and submission attempts from the bottom position, and potentially look like a significant favorite by the end of the first round.
I would be fairly surprised if Virna finds a finish, and I like her decision prop down to +211 (projected +184) in addition to her moneyline.
- Virna Jandiroba (+161, 1u)
- Jandiroba wins by Decision (+240, 0.5u)
Lightweight fight: Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||+115/-155|
Crowdsourced Projections: Ferguson (61%)
There’s a reason that I force myself to create fight projections – rather than purely relying on matchup analysis – since I typically would have smashed Tony Ferguson’s moneyline at what looks like a potentially reduced price.
Based upon implied probabilities from closing odds, Ferguson has only been less likely to win a UFC fight on just two occasions (+110 vs. Rafael Dos Anjos in 2016, and -180 against Edson Barboza in 2015) since making his promotional debut in 2011.
Historically, Ferguson breaks his opponents down with pressure – and Oliveira, who has been finished seven times – has struggled against pressure fighters.
But Ferguson – now 36 years old – is taking on his second fight in a calendar year for the first time since 2016, after sustaining a life-changing beatdown from Justin Gaethje in May.
Given his reputation for getting into wars, Ferguson’s career striking defense (59%) is surprisingly high, but his range defense (38%) was no match for Gaethje’s accuracy that night.
Though he is a typically slow starter, “El Cucuy” always rallies, overcoming early deficits against Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Lando Vannata, and Edson Barboza:
But the fact that he has found himself in those early holes – and knocked down at the hands of both Pettis and Vannata – speaks as much to a potentially declining skillset as it does his ability to overcome adversity.
That being said, Oliveira’s strengths lie in the grappling department and Tony’s chances of surviving against another BJJ blackbelt seem higher than Charles’ chances of surviving Tony’s striking.
Oliveira’s striking has improved, but he doesn’t have the same wrestling advantage (2.61 takedowns per 15 minutes, 42% accuracy) that a fighter like Kevin Lee had over Tony (75% takedown defense).
Unless Charles is able to control Ferguson on the ground for a significant period of time – something only Lee (4:49 of control, more than two minutes in two separate rounds, prior to being choked) has been able to do – it’s difficult to imagine “Do Bronx” winning on the scorecards.
If not, the only true path to victory for Oliveira here appears to be a submission, but his chances of surviving and winning a three-round fight are significantly higher than they would be over five rounds against Ferguson.
While Oliveira will look to continue his eight-fight finish streak on Saturday, it seems unlikely against such a durable and slick competitor; unless Ferguson’s level has dropped off.
I don’t see any pre-fight wagering value on this bout, but I’ll look to live bet Ferguson’s resilience if he finds himself in another early hole.
- Live bet Tony Ferguson after Round 1
Flyweight fight: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
|Over/Under 2.5 rounds||+100/-134|
Crowdsourced Projections: Figueiredo (79%)
I previewed both fighters for UFC 255 just a few weeks ago, and find it incredibly intriguing from a spot perspective that Figueiredo – who looks massive in the octagon on fight night and has previously struggled to make 125 – has now had to cut weight twice in one month; though he was first on the scale on Friday.
That only lends further credence to outstanding questions about his ability to sustain in the championship rounds – as we have yet to see Deiveson’s stamina past the 15-minute mark (8:57 average fight time).
That’s because “Deus Da Guerra” – God of War – is a complete anomaly at flyweight or any division for that matter.
Deiveson Figueiredo's 8 knockdowns have come on just 448 significant strike attempts.
Only one fighter in UFC history has at least 8 knockdowns with fewer attempts — Pat Barry (8 KD, 361 significant strike attempts)#UFC256
— MMA By The Numbers (@NumbersMMA) December 10, 2020
Figueiredo lands a low volume of strikes (2.79 per minute) – which ranks in the bottom third of fighters historically – but at high efficiency (55% accuracy) while loading up for power on each attempt – putting his relative damage (for his weight class) on par with Francis Ngannou.
Unfortunately, his finishing style is fundamentally flawed – as Figueiredo rarely tries to win minutes, and he is typically going to be vulnerable on the scorecards if he cannot secure wins inside the distance.
Officially, Moreno has never been finished in a professional bout, but he was submitted on The Ultimate Fighter in 2016 by Alexandre Pantoja. And unlike Perez, who historically strikes at high volume, Moreno is both less active and less efficient (35% striking accuracy) on the feet – widening the path for a more powerful and precise Figueiredo to win by the decision even if he does survive.
However, Moreno is more likely than Perez to get into a brawl and create a high variance fight – which should serve to increase his own win probability as an underdog but could ultimately end in disaster against the type of fighter who almost always capitalizes on chaos.
Figueiredo was annoyed that he didn’t receive a performance bonus following his win over Perez – and will be in search of that 50K bonus – in addition to likely gaining Fighter of the Year status – if he can complete the shortest title defense in UFC history on Saturday.
There is value on Figueiredo’s moneyline to about -300 (implied 75%), a 4% edge compared to my projection, but I prefer Daico’s inside the distance prop to roughly -200 (implied 66.7%) relative to my projection at -245 (implied 71.1%).
Pound for pound, there are few better in the world right now than Deiveson Figueiredo is at 125 pounds.
- Deiveson Figueiredo wins Inside the Distance (-165, 0.5u)
Zerillo’s UFC 256 Bets
Distance & Decision Props
- Tecia Torres wins by Decision (-175, 0.5u)
- Billy Quarantillo wins by Decision (+170, 0.5u)
- Virna Jandiroba wins by Decision (+240, 0.5u)
Inside the Distance Props
- Deiveson Figueiredo wins Inside the Distance (-165, 0.5u)
- Billy Quarantillo (-155, 0.5u)
- Renato Moicano (+135, 1.5u)
- Virna Jandiroba (+161, 1u)
- dos Santos / Gane, Over 1.5 Rounds (-130, 0.5u)
- Holland / Souza, Under 2.5 Rounds (+112, 0.5u)
Live Betting Notes
- Billy Quarantillo after Round 1
- Tony Ferguson after Round 1